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God is my Co-Pilot is one of the best War Movies ever made. This movie was not available on Video for a while, and it was after fans have been screaming for it to come out on Video that it was finally released. Dennis Morgan plays Col. Robert Lee Scott, an Army Pilot who was looking for combat duty in World War II. He ends up in China with The Flying Tigers and flies with them on numerous missions. Richard Loo as "Tokyo Joe", a big mouth, over confident Japanese Fighter Pilot who communicates with his enemies over the radio and welcomes any chance to clash with Scott. This movie may not be as accurate as the book but it still a great movie with great combat scenes with P-40s and T-6 Texans as Japanese Zeros.
Here in Atlanta we mourn the death Monday, February 27th of General Robert L. Scott, ace and author of the book from which this classic movie was made. Scott owed $25,00 in back taxes after publishing his (most successful) book in the Summer of 1943 - during the height of WW II. His publisher advanced the tax money to him and gave him another assignment. The result: "Damned to Glory". Other books include "Runway to the Sun", Look of the Eagle", Tiger in the Sky and another classic IMHO: "Chennault of China". They don't make 'em - men and movies - like this any more. Scott to his last days was a fixture at the renowned Museum of Avation in Warner Robins, GA. He was always very helpful and full of stories with which to inform and regale the museum patrons. He will be sorely missed. Get the movie and the book and savor them like old wine.
**SPOILERS** WWII war movie about the fabled "Flying Tigers" who
battled the Japanese over the skies of China as early as 1937, four
years before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and amassed a record of
air-to-air combat kills against the Japanese air force of something
like 40 to 1.
The story "God is my Co-Pilot" actually begins in the summer of 1942 with USAF ace Col. Scott, Dennis Morgan, depressed and heart-broken because he can't be part of a major air assault against Japanese forces in China. The movie goes into a flashback where we see how Scott got interested in flying as a young boy back in Georgia and eventually joined the USAF ending up in China as the first US military man to become a member of the "Flying Tigers"; The Tigers were exclusively made up of foreign, mostly Americans,volunteers.
As you would expect the "Flying Tigers" airmen aren't that hip to a USAF man who's well over combat age, Scott is 34, joining up with their exclusive flying fighters squadrons. In no time at all Scott gets the hang of it and he becomes the hero, and to the battered and bloodied Japs,villain in the Chinese Theater of War. Back home in Macon Georga Scott's exploits make the front pages and his score of air-to air kills against the Japs are posted daily as if it was the score of a Championship Football or World Series Baseball game.
The movie "God is my Co-Pilot" also has a Japanese villain in the person of Japanese air ace Tokyo Joe, Richard Loo, an American educated Japanese combat pilot who, by the number of USAF kill decals under the side-window of his Zero, seemed to have accounted for all the "Flying Tiger" P-40's shot down in China. Scott has a number of encounters with Tokyo Joe during the air combat in the movie and finally shoots him out of the sky by faking that he's in trouble, his engine is on fire, tricking Joe to lose his composure and overshoot his P-40. Scott ends up putting Joe right in the middle of his cross-hairs and thus became history and yesterdays news. Scott on a mission over Japanese held Hong Kong, where he downed Tokyo Joe, loses control of his plane and crashes and is given up for dead only to show up later alive and rescued by the local Chinese peasants.
Dennis Morgan is both brave and humble as Col. Robert Lee Scott and even at the hight of the fighting has second thoughts about killing people, Japanese soldiers, even in wartime. Raymond Massey is excellent as the "Flying Tiger" commanded Gen Claire L. Chennault who answers Scott prayers at the end of the movie by giving him one last chance to go into combat. this after he was rendered useless as a combat pilot because of his nerves being shattered, from the combat missions he already flew, and the tropical illnesses he contracted in China. We never really get to know how Scott's last mission turned out since the movie ends before it even begins.
Watching the movie it's obvious that it was non-other then Richard Loo as the wise-cracking Japanese air ace Tokyo Joe who has the best lines, which he delivers in perfect English, and the scenes with him interacting with the USAF and "Flying Tiger" pilots, like Col. Scott, are by far the best in the movie.
DENNIS MORGAN is one of those actors under contract to Warner Bros. who
seldom got a chance to do anything but lightweight roles and
occasionally given a fairly good musical such as the Technicolored MY
WILD IRISH ROSE where he played Chauncey Olcott, songwriter.
But GOD IS MY CO-PILOT is a rarity in that he gets to fill most of the screen's running time as Col. Robert Lee Scott, one of the first Americans to join the "Flying Tigers" just before World War II. Scott went on to a distinctive wartime record and only recently died at a ripe old age, a hero of his hometown of Macon, Georgia.
The film is a typical Warner war film--cast with all of their most dependable stock company players--including RAYMOND MASSEY, ALAN HALE, CRAIG STEVENS, newcomer MARK STEVENS, ANDREA KING, DANE CLARK, JOHN RIDGELY and DONALD COOK. But as a film, it falls strictly into the Saturday afternoon adventure mold for kiddies, only occasionally rising to the occasion of being a good biography of the wartime hero.
Despite the rather plum role, Morgan is still a lightweight, leaving the heavier histrionics to Raymond Massey and Alan Hale--but his fans loved him in this, regardless. It's probably the film he's most remembered for during the '40s.
And incidentally, there was no political correctness going on in the '40s as far as America and the Japanese were concerned, for those taking affront at the slurs against "the Japs". That's the way they were regarded then. Even having dishes that bore "Made in Japan" on them, was enough for an American to consider throwing them out. That's how it was--deal with it.
The story is loosely based on Robert L. Scott's autobiography. The picture made towards the end of World War II is a fairly typical war time film. The story does give some accurate details on the Flying Tigers and there total dominance over the numerically superior Japanese forces. Colonel Scott was a legitimate ace during the war and his story is worth watching. I rated this a 7.
This movie helped the P40 to become my favorite warplane of all time. They used E models for the filming of this movie which would have been correct for mid-1942. The enemy planes incorrectly referred to as Zeroes were actually AT6 Texans which were almost always used in other movies as well. The flying scenes were filmed at Luke Air Force base in Arizona. The Flying Tigers fought against the Japanese Air Force which flew Ki-43 'Oscars'. The Imperial Navy pilots flew the Zero and were not involved in that conflict. The other thing that you see written often about the Flying Tigers is that they were fighting the Japanese "years before" Pearl Harbor. The truth is only Chenault was in China in the '30's helping out. The ground crews, pilots, and planes were not in place until November of 1941. Their first combat mission occurred on December 20, 13 days AFTER Pearl Harbor. Dennis Morgan, Alan Hale, & Richard Loo play their characters very well. Some people today are offended by all of the racial slurs that are uttered. But when this movie was made in 1945, the Japanese were the hated villains. The soldier's dilemma of taking lives as their duty versus what the 10 commandments says is dealt with tastefully in this movie. It's an enjoyable film that represents movies of the 1940's well.
Here is an absolutely incorrect statement - "WWII war movie about the
fabled "Flying Tigers" who battled the Japanese over the skies of China
as early as 1937, four years before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and
amassed a record of air-to-air combat kills against the Japanese air
force of something like 40 to 1."
The foregoing is NOT true - the Flying Tigers flew their FIRST combat mission on 20 December 1941 MORE THAN TWO WEEKS AFTER PEARL HARBOR!!! They were disbanded on 4 July 1942 - they were only in combat for about six months. During that time they did establish an astonishing air-to-air kill ratio of somewhere between 29 to 40 to 1 (it is still in dispute). Gen. Chennault had been in China since 1937 working for the Nationalist government as an adviser and trying to develop a Chinese air force, with limited, if any success. Someone made a comment that the original AVG pilots refused to fly the 4 July 1942 mission- I'm sure they did, the unit had been disbanded by that time and most of the pilots had been treated like dirt by the Air Corps general, Bissell by name, who was tasked with trying to get them to stay on in the American army air forces. Read about that debacle sometime. By the way, Scott never flew with the Flying Tigers, he was brought in as the unit commander after it was integrated into the Army Air Forces, a few, but by no means all, of the original Tigers transferred over and continued to fight in China. Quite a few others went back to the States and re-joined their former services. Boyington went back to the Marine Corps, quite a few others into the Air Corps and served in Europe.
The movie takes quite a few, in fact it takes a whole lot of,liberties with Scott's book, but the general idea is there as is the wonderful lack of "political correctness". This country knew how to fight a war back then and how to let it's military people "close with, engage and destroy" our enemies and they were allowed to refer to them as they saw fit. Krauts, Japs. Wops whatever, they were the bad guys. Let me assure you when someone is actively engaged in trying to kill you, you really don't care about hurting their feelings. For me VC & NVA will always be "gooks" and if that offends someone - well all I can say is "Tough! deal with it"! God help the Soldier or Marine today who calls an Islamic terrorist a "raghead" in front of some prissy journalist. These days - the poor S.O.B. would be court martialed and in the brig before he knew what hit him. Ah, for the good old days. This movie will take you back to them and remind you of a time when this country actually stood for something and had pride in itself.
This film was made as WWII was ending. The main interest in it was the
exciting aerial photography used in it. For a propaganda film, "God Is
My Co-Pilot" presents one aspect of the conflict in the Far East. It's
a story about bravery and courage as the young pilots of The Flying
Tigers fought the conflict.
The story of a war hero, Colonel Robert Scott, is at the center of the film. Col. Scott knew no fear as he took to the air. His comrades, the other pilots of the squadron, admired him deeply as he set a clear example about how to serve his country unselfishly. The air combats shown in the film must have been amazing to the audiences of the time in which the movie was released.
Robert Flarey directed a film that made those young aces heroes in what would become the powerful might of the Air Force in future conflicts. Dennis Morgan was perfect as Col. Scott, the man who knew no fear. Raymond Massey plays General Chennault. Alan Hale appears as the friendly priest Big Mike. Some other familiar faces in the cast, Dane Clark, Mark Stevens, Craig Stevens, and other.
The only thing with the print recently shown by TCM looks as though the film was re-dubbed as the dialog doesn't match the lip movements of the actors in the film.
I've now had to edit this review with the news of the death of Colonel
Robert L. Scott, Jr. at the grand old age of 98. He was a genuine war
hero and the leading citizen of his home town of Macon, Georgia.
The book on which this film was based was written in the flush of VJ Day after our Pacific victory. Moods and attitudes don't change so easily and when Warner Brothers made this film we were in our World War II mode.
I do wonder if Scott had waited a few years before selling the film rights would the picture have included all the racial cracks about the Japanese? Probably so because those were our attitudes and Japan was the enemy.
But I doubt the enemy would have been so personalized as Richard Loo's character with the buck teeth and the Charlie Chan dialog. Even 12 years later in The Bridge Over the River Kwai, the Japanese are cruel and despotic without being stereotyped. I doubt if Sessue Hayakawa would have played it the way Richard Loo did, who in fact was Chinese and his country was fighting the Japanese.
Because of the racial stuff, God Is My Co-Pilot is not as well regarded today as it could have been. That's a pity because Dennis Morgan does a grand job in portraying a genuine American hero. It and Chauncey Olcott in My Wild Irish Rose are probably the roles Morgan is best known for today. Also Raymond Massey as General Claire Chennault and Alan Hale as a Catholic missionary priest are memorable.
Of course if the film had come out years later, Jimmy Stewart would have insisted on playing Scott. But he was still busy in the real Army Air Corps at the time.
Robert Florey directed this biographical account of Col. Robert Lee Scott(played by Dennis Morgan), a pilot during WWII who is flying transport planes over China, but really wants to soar with the Flying Tigers, an elite aerial squadron fighting the Japanese. Major General Chennault(played by Raymond Massey) gives him his chance, even though at 34 he is a bit old. Col. Scott distinguishes himself by successfully shooting down the enemy, including hated turncoat pilot called 'Tokyo Joe', who loved to taunt his former countrymen. Good model F/X and flying sequences compensate for clichéd script; one of the last patriotic morale boosters before the war ended.
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